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Posts Tagged ‘etiquette’

I was faced with an etiquette dilemma a few months back when I received a text announcing the birth of a baby. Unfortunately, the number wasn’t stored in my phone and there were no details in the text itself that gave away the identity of the parents. 

I mean, what would you have done? At the risk of sounding like a quiz out of Dolly magazine, would you:

a) write back “Congratulations!” and hope you work out who the kid belongs to some time before their 18th birthday;
b) write back “Look, I’m really happy for you and all but who the fuck ARE you?”; OR 
c) do nothing in the hope the news will come via other channels, such as email, pamphlet drop or some kind of reality TV special.

In the end, I was so paralyzed by uncertainty I ended up going with c). And a few days later, I received an email from long-serving friend (and erstwhile reader of this blog) Madame Zap that revealed not only that she was the mysterious texter (and now newly-mother-of-three) but that the text had in fact been sent from the delivery bed. 

I felt terrible. And not just because her mobile number details had obviously dropped out of my phone’s address book in one of three recent phone changes. Mostly I felt terrible because if had been me texting from the delivery bed, I’d like to think people could be bothered texting back. It doesn’t take that much effort to punch out a few words on your phone, you know. Unlike, say, pushing something the size of a small planet, for example, through your watoosy. Just sayin’. 

Of course I immediately set about making amends and went out and bought a card and a present for the baby. Which then sat unsent on my desk for four long months. Etiquette failure number two.

And so, in the end, I had no choice but to drive across town to Madame Zap’s house with The Pixie and Tiddles McGee to hand-deliver both card and present. It was the only way to sort out this whole mess. 

Now, I should point out here that Madame Zap had moved to a rather ritzy suburb since we’d last met. I had some trepidation about going there because the last time I’d driven ’round those parts I’d been with the whole family in the Love Bus and it was a little like the Beverly Hill Billies rolling into town. I think some local residents actually had to wash out their eyes after seeing us driving down their immaculate hedge-lined streets and, had they known where their gardeners stored the pitchforks, they probably would have tried to chase us out.  

This time, however, I was driving the Star Wagon and therefore cloaked in the power of the Light Commercial Vehicle. Thus, I could easily pass myself off as a courier delivering a package. And since I was actually delivering a present or card, my story was water-tight – you know, just in case a member of the Local Citizen Action Group challenged me as I tried to enter the suburb. Which, somewhat disappointingly, they didn’t.  

Anyway, it was lovely to catch up with Madame Zap, to meet the latest addition to her family and to see her beautiful new house. And it was a blessed relief to finally hand over the card and present. 

And that might have been the happy end to this story, EXCEPT for some further breaches of etiquette I committed while there that have been weighing on my mind ever since, including:

1) managing to stretch a morning-tea invitation til well past lunchtime (not acceptable when there is a small baby in the house);
2) bringing a teenage mutant ninja turtle figure into a house previously untouched by the TMNT franchise and then leaving it there; and
3) changing Tiddles McGee’s shit-packed nappy in the back of the Star Wagon and in full view of the neighbourhood. 

Lord knows how you even start making amends for that lot. Any suggestions? Anyone?

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Nothing says “Welcome home” more than the sound of all three of your smoke detectors going off. 

You see, I had managed to merrily set off on the school run, leaving biscuits that I’d deemed to need only “a few more minutes” trapped in an oven that was hotter than the sun.

In many ways, it was a good thing I didn’t remember the biscuits until we were actually at the school otherwise I may have been faced with one of those terrible “Get A Late Pass or Save The House” decisions. Somehow, I think the house would have lost out, particularly because I still too much of a soft cock to show my face in the school office (see “Sorry, It’s School Policy“). And it is quite possible I might have regarded the house burning down to the ground as one hell of an effective way to get out of doing the dishes…

But once Mr Justice had been delivered through the school gates, my mission was clear: Get. The. Hell. Home.

Of course, the journey back was fraught with many obstacles: for one thing, we had to swim against the steady stream of parents heading to the school, who said stuff like “Oooh, you’re early today!”, “No late pass today?” and (my favourite) “Did you forget your son?”.

No, I didn’t forget my son! I’m not *that* irresponsible – I’m merely burning the house down!  I felt like shouting. But I didn’t because then they would have said “Oh, why?” and I would have had to explain the whole situation. Which is probably why fire engines have such loud sirens so nobody is tempted to ask them where they’re going or why they’re going there. 

Still, all that nodding and smiling and “Ha ha ha ha!”-ing takes up time and energy, people! But when I finally got clear of the school rush hour, I came face to face with another school mum, carrying her newborn baby.

Now etiquette dictates that you have to pause and fuss over the baby and ask for details of the birth, etc – you can’t just say “Yeah, yeah, nice baby. Sure… Uh, gotta dash! My house is burning down!” It’s just not The Done Thing. 

Also, if the truth be known, I’m a sucker for newborn babies – they’re so itsy-bitsy-ickly-wickly cute with their ‘ittle-wittle ears and fingers and toes and nose and… But I digress.

However, the etiquette surrounding our next encounter was a little less clear. We saw a cute little baby dog running cute little baby dog circles on the road in front of considerably less cute and larger oncoming traffic and somehow “Sorry kids, that cute puppy has to die so that our house may live” just didn’t seem the appropriate thing to say. And so we had to carefully shepherded the dog back across the road to the house he’d run out of, knock on the door, explain to the owner, be thanked by the owner, get away from the owner, etc, etc. ETC. 

After all that, I literally sprinted down the rest of the road pushing the Valco Mobile Home, to find a) the smoke alarms heralding our arrival; b) the house (thankfully) still standing; c) the dishes still undone; and d) the biscuits only fit for use as charcoal to scratch the words “TURN OFF THE OVEN, YOU FREAKING IDIOT” on the inside of the front door for next time. 

What kind of person bakes cookies before the school run, anyway? Sheesh!

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At mothers’ group the other day, one of the mums showed us her breasts no less than four times. I don’t know why, but I chose to share this with my husband, which is exactly the kind of thing that makes him perk up a little and say “I should come to mothers’ group a bit more often”. But then, this is the man who always hopes the Girls Nights Outs I go on involve my friends and I romping around in our underwear hitting each other with pillows. Which is almost what happens, except it’s more like Bollywood-themed parties where we get drunk and dance a lot and where usually mild-mannered lawyers say things like “Man, my sari keeps getting in the way of my air guitar”.

Anyway, I quickly added that this exhibition of breasts at mothers’ group was strictly a one-off. You see, one of our ranks (MW) has surgically upgraded her A-Cup Peanuts to C-Cup Hooters and she’s very excited. And for very good reason: they look spectacular and they make her feel All Woman (with just a dash of silicon thrown in for good measure). 

Not surprisingly enough, my husband asked if anyone had touched them, though he hastened to add that this question was the result of an Inquiring Mind and not of a Perverted One. I sighed: No, no-one had touched them. However, I was hoping that, at the upcoming Christmas party, we might all get drunk enough to cop a feel, perhaps as part of a blind-fold test where we put her C cups next to another set of C cups to see if we could feel the difference. Except – of course – gravity would give the game away: one set would be up where we’d all like breasts to be and the other set would be more at waist level. Unless we did the test with both participants wearing the same type of bra, maybe with a little lace edging to enhance the whole “cop a feel” experience…

I suddenly realised I was thinking all this out loud and that my husband was hanging off my every word (for a change). “I think I’d better get [local dad] Matt-Guitar-Murphy in on this.” he said, somewhat dazed. “We can sit in the corner with a few bottles of his Home Brew and Just Watch. You won’t even know that we’re there.”

I think I then tried to change the whole topic of breasts, but he came back to it from another angle a while later. “What should I say when I see [MW]?” he asked. My advice was to keep quiet, unless she herself brought them up (no pun intended). And then, it was probably not a good idea for him to do what I did when I first saw them, which was to exclaim “Hello, boys!!!”.

We then workshopped some possible comments he might make, thinking he could give his remarks a financial slant since that’s his (albeit accidental) current area of expertise and that would keep them purely professional. For example, “I heard you’ve boosted your assets portfolio”. Or  “I hope your husband is getting a good return on his investment”. Or “That’s one investment which will guarantee a happy ending these-a-days”. Or…er…

And finally, we (rather sensibly) decided it was probably best for him to avoid her until the novelty wears off completely for everybody –  say in about twenty years. And in the meantime, if he thinks that I’m going to tell him the location of our Christmas Party, he’s very much mistaken. My lips and shirt buttons are completely and utterly sealed.

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